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Evaluation, Modeling and Optimization of Coverage Enhancement Methods of NB-IoT

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Abstract and Figures

Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a new Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology released by 3GPP. The primary goals of NB-IoT are improved coverage, massive capacity, low cost, and long battery life. In order to improve coverage, NB-IoT has promising solutions, such as increasing transmission repetitions, decreasing bandwidth, and adapting the Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS). In this paper, we present an implementation of coverage enhancement features of NB-IoT in NS-3, an end-to-end network simulator. The resource allocation and link adaptation in NS-3 are modified to comply with the new features of NB-IoT. Using the developed simulation framework, the influence of the new features on network reliability and latency is evaluated. Furthermore, an optimal hybrid link adaptation strategy based on all three features is proposed. To achieve this, we formulate an optimization problem that has an objective function based on latency, and constraint based on the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). Then, we propose several algorithms to minimize latency and compare them with respect to accuracy and speed. The best hybrid solution is chosen and implemented in the NS-3 simulator by which the latency formulation is verified. The numerical results show that the proposed optimization algorithm for hybrid link adaptation is eight times faster than the exhaustive search approach and yields similar latency.
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arXiv:submit/2577769 [cs.ET] 19 Feb 2019
Evaluation, Modeling and Optimization of
Coverage Enhancement Methods of NB-IoT
Sahithya Ravi∗†, Pouria Zand, Mohieddine El Soussiand Majid Nabi Holst
Centre / IMEC-NL, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Electrical Engineering Department, Eindhoven University of Technology,
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a new Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN)
technology released by 3GPP. The primary goals of NB-IoT are improved coverage, massive capacity,
low cost, and long battery life. In order to improve coverage, NB-IoT has promising solutions, such
as increasing transmission repetitions, decreasing bandwidth, and adapting the Modulation and Coding
Scheme (MCS). In this paper, we present an implementation of coverage enhancement features of NB-
IoT in NS-3, an end-to-end network simulator. The resource allocation and link adaptation in NS-3 are
modified to comply with the new features of NB-IoT. Using the developed simulation framework, the
influence of the new features on network reliability and latency is evaluated. Furthermore, an optimal
hybrid link adaptation strategy based on all three features is proposed. To achieve this, we formulate an
optimization problem that has an objective function based on latency, and constraint based on the Signal
to Noise Ratio (SNR). Then, we propose several algorithms to minimize latency and compare them with
respect to accuracy and speed. The best hybrid solution is chosen and implemented in the NS-3 simulator
by which the latency formulation is verified. The numerical results show that the proposed optimization
algorithm for hybrid link adaptation is eight times faster than the exhaustive search approach and yields
similar latency.
Index Terms
NB-IoT, Coverage enhancement, Link adaptation, Optimization, NS-3.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the idea of connecting everyday objects to the Internet,
enabling them to send and receive data. There is a wide range of applications for IoT in the areas
of smart cities, asset tracking, smart agriculture, health monitoring and so on. The IoT landscape
consists of wireless technologies that operate in licensed or unlicensed bands, achieving ranges
from less than ten meters up to tens of kilometers with data rates from a few bps to Mbps.
Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) targets low-power and long-range applications with
data rates from 10 bps up to a few kbps. Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) [1] is a licensed LPWAN
technology, which was standardized in 2016 by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
NB-IoT can be deployed in Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) or Long-Term
Evolution (LTE) networks, and can co-exist with LTE. NB-IoT uses a new physical layer design
that facilitates a wide range of IoT applications in the licensed spectrum that require long range,
deep indoor penetration, low cost, low data rate, low power consumption, and massive capacity
Among the aforementioned requirements, this paper focuses on uplink coverage enhancement.
Many solutions are proposed in the standard to achieve coverage enhancement for NB-IoT. The
first solution, referred as tones, is to reduce the bandwidth and to perform resource allocation
based on tones (or subcarriers) instead of Resource Blocks (RBs). A lower number of tones
enables the User Equipment (UE) to transmit in a narrower bandwidth. The second solution
is repetitions, which refers to repeating the data transmission multiple times. The last solution
is Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS), which is already used in LTE to achieve better
coverage [3]. Considering the new features of tones and repetitions, uplink link adaptation needs
to be performed in three dimensions - using tones, repetitions and MCS. In this paper, coverage
enhancement features of NB-IoT are implemented in NS-3 simulator and the effect of each one
of these features on reliability and latency is evaluated and analyzed. Furthermore, a hybrid link
adaptation considering tones, repetitions and MCS is provided so that the latency per user is
minimal and good reliability is achieved. Different techniques for optimization are tried out and
compared in terms of execution time and accuracy.
A. Background
NB-IoT has a bandwidth of 180 kHz which corresponds to one RB of LTE. In the uplink, the
bandwidth of 180 kHz can be distributed among 12 subcarriers or tones with 15 kHz spacing,
or 48 subcarriers with 3.75 kHz spacing. The subframe duration for 3.75 kHz spacing is 4 ms,
which is four times that of 15 kHz spacing [4].
NB-IoT supports single-tone and multi-tone communication in the uplink. In case of multi-
tone, there are three options with 12, 6 and 3 subcarriers. In case of single-tone, there is only 1
subcarrier with either 15 kHz or 3.75 kHz spacing. A higher number of tones is used to provide
higher data rates for devices in normal coverage, while a lower number of tones is used for
devices that need extended coverage. A single packet of a fixed size is transmitted over 1 ms in
case of 12 tones, 2 ms in case of 6 tones, 4 ms in case of 3 tones, 8 ms in case of 1 tone (15
kHz spacing) and 32 ms in case of 1 tone (3.75 kHz spacing) [5].
MCS is the feature that influences the type of modulation and code rate. MCS is directly
proportional to the code rate and Transport Block Size (TBS) and can take values from 0 to 12
[6]. As the channel quality deteriorates, the MCS becomes lower and thus the code rate and TBS
become lower. MCS, tones and repetitions are assigned based on channel quality. Repetitions
of uplink data can take values of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. When channel quality is poor,
tones and MCS are decreased and repetitions are increased.
B. State-of-the-art
Constituting a relatively new technology, there are a lot of open issues that need to be
investigated for NB-IoT, such as performance analysis, link adaptation, design optimization,
and co-existence with other technologies. The performance of NB-IoT with respect to coverage,
capacity, and co-existence with LTE has been studied in, for instance, [7], [8], [9] and [10]. The
focus of our paper is towards implementation and evaluation of coverage enhancement techniques
and link adaptation based on coverage enhancement methods.
NS-3 is an open source network simulator commonly used for evaluating wireless technologies
such as LTE. The NS-3 LTE module is well-tested and can be used as a base for developing
the NB-IoT module. The work on NB-IoT module in NS-3 began in [11], in which the authors
modified downlink signaling traffic such as the Master Information Block (MIB) and the System
Information Block (SIB) to comply with NB-IoT specification. In [12], the authors restricted the
bandwidth to one Resource Block (RB) which is 180 kHz and separated the control and data
channels. This paper aims to extend [12], by modifying the resolution of resources from RB to
subcarriers, implementing the single and multi-tone uplink features, and including repetitions in
the uplink.
With respect to uplink link adaptation of NB-IoT, the authors of [13] propose a 2D link
adaptation strategy based on MCS and repetitions and use link-level simulations to evaluate the
performance of their solution. In this paper, however, we use a system and network level simulator
(NS-3) to evaluate our solution through end-to-end simulations. Further, they do not take tones
into account, which is an important dimension to be considered for link adaptation. Furthermore,
they do not consider a hybrid solution instead they fix one parameter while varying the other.
In [14], the authors derive analytic equations that model the impact of repetitions, tones and
MCS. They also propose an exhaustive search method that searches all possible combinations
of repetitions, tones, and MCS to minimize the transmission latency. However, their analysis
of the coverage enhancement features is entirely based on analytic models and has not been
verified using network simulations. This paper first performs the hybrid link adaptation using
analytic approaches and compares the outcome to the results of end-to-end simulations to verify
the accuracy of the solution. Furthermore, instead of an exhaustive search method, we propose
a closed-form solution that achieves the optimum result with lower complexity.
The NB-IoT module of NS-3 is built using the existing LTE module. The LTE module in
NS-3 includes aspects such as radio resource management (RRC), physical layer error model
[15], QoS-aware packet scheduling, inter-cell interference coordination, and dynamic spectrum
access. Based on the LTE module in NS-3, the authors of [12] implemented the basic features
for eMTC and NB-IoT modules. Based on the NB-IoT module described in [12], we implement
the uplink coverage enhancement features.
A. Implementation of tones and repetitions
In order to implement tones, modifications are made in both time domain (extending a packet
according to tone) and frequency domain (transmitting over a narrower bandwidth). It is know
that reducing bandwidth improves the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) as the transmitted power
spectral density increases. In order to support bandwidth lower than 180 kHz (1 RB), the existing
resource allocation is modified from RB-based allocation to subcarrier-based allocation.
In order to implement repetitions, major modifications are made in the time domain (repeating
a data packet). Whenever repetition is used, the subsequent repetitions of the same data are
aggregated at the eNodeB. Hence, the resulting SNR after the aggregation is the sum of the
SINR (SRS) Error
tone =12
BLER < 0.1
Fig. 1: The link adaptation mechanism.
(a) Assigned value vs zone (b) Achieved PDR vs zone (c) Achieved delay vs zone
Fig. 2: Performance of link adaptation in open area and urban scenarios.
SNRs of each received repetition. Therefore, repetition of two results in an improvement of
approximately 3dB in SNR [14]. In order to achieve this behavior, we have modified the physical
layer of the base station in NS-3 to aggregate all the repetitions, and use the final sum of SNR
as input to the error model described in [15].
B. Implementation of link adaptation
Link adaptation is performed based on the SNR received from the Secondary Reference Signal
(SRS). SRS is a signal that is sent periodically by the UE. Fig. 1 shows the link adaptation
mechanism. The SNR received from the SRS is provided as input to the error model of NS-3 to
find the Block Error Rate (BLER) corresponding to the SNR [15]. If the BLER is less than the
target BLER of 0.1, the MCS and tone are fixed to the highest value (12 tones) and repetition is
fixed to the lowest value (1 repetition). If the target BLER is not met, MCS, tone and repetition
are adapted and re-evaluated using the error model. This process is repeated until a BLER of 0.1
or less is reached. The final value of the MCS, tone or repetition that resulted in the BLER of
0.1 or less is assigned to the UE. Three independent methods of link adaptation are performed:
1) MCS is adapted based on SNR (repetitions are fixed to 1 and tones are fixed to 12).
2) Tones are adapted based on SNR (repetitions are fixed to 1 and MCS is fixed to 12).
3) Repetitions are adapted based on SNR (MCS is fixed to 12 and tones are fixed to 12).
C. Evaluation
The three link adaptation strategies are evaluated using NS-3. The performance evaluation is
carried out for random deployment scenarios. We consider two scenarios: open area and urban.
In open area, the eNodeB is located in the center and UE’s are arranged in a random fashion at
different distances from the eNodeB up to a distance of 25 km. Note that as distance increases,
the SNR becomes lower. In urban scenario, we include buildings and we assume that 80-90%
of the users are located inside the buildings. For a given distance, SNR is relatively lower inside
a building than outside. The simulation parameters for these scenarios are shown in Table I.
In each scenario, the nodes are grouped among different zones. There are 16 zones which
start at different distance from the eNodeB as indicated by the “Zone start” field in Table I.
The zones are separated by three different intervals indicated as “Zone width” field in Table I.
Fig. 2 shows the results for open area and urban scenarios. Fig. 2(a) shows the average value
of the assigned MCS, repetition and tone in different zones. It is important to note that, the
TABLE I: Simulation parameters
Parameter Value
Number of UE 100 - 600
UEs distribution random
Propagation model Okumura-Hata propagation model (Open area)
Hybrid building propagation model (Urban)
Frequency Band DL: 925 MHz, UL: 880 MHz
Tx Power eNodeB: 46 dBm, UE: 20 dBm
Packet Size 12 bytes
# Runs 100 runs
Inter-packet interval 10 seconds
Zone start (m) 0, 200, 600, 800, 1000, 2000, 2500, 2750, 3000
3500, 4000, 5000, 6000, 8000, 10000
Zone width (m) 200, 250, 500, 1000
farther the zone, the lower the value of SNR. We can observe that due to indoor deployment
in urban scenario the values of MCS, tone and repetitions are modified at closer distances. In
urban scenario, UE’s that are located inside buildings have very low values of SNR compared
to the open area and the MCS, repetition and tone are adapted more rapidly in order to improve
Similarly, as shown in Fig. 2(b), the reduction in Packet Delivery Ratio (PDR) is steeper in
urban scenario. We can observe from the PDR graph that MCS provides good reliability until
zone 11 (4 km), in open areas scenario, while it starts to fail in zone 6 (2 km) in the urban
scenario. Tones start to fail at zone 14 (8 km) in the open areas and zone 9 (3 km) in urban.
Repetition also follows the same trend and achieves good reliability until zone 16 (10 km) in
open areas and zone 11 (4 km) in urban. Therefore, we can achieve good reliability until a
maximum distance of 10 km in open areas and 4 km in urban areas. Repetitions have the best
performance in both urban and open areas. However, an increase in repetitions has to be traded
off for a corresponding increase in the power consumption. Fig. 2(c) shows the average delay
or latency at different zones. We can observe that the delay starts to increase at a lower distance
for urban compared with open area. This clearly shows that the latency of transmission increases
as we move from open areas to urban areas. The delay follows the adapted value and increases
towards farther zones. Based on the above results, we can conclude that the improvement in
coverage comes at the cost of a higher delay. The link adaptation strategies illustrated above try
to adapt one of the features such as tone or MCS or repetitions. However, in practice, a more
useful solution will be to adapt all three of them in an optimal manner.
The link adaptation strategies described in the previous section adapt only one of the three
coverage enhancement parameters, which result in saturation before achieving a good coverage.
In order to extend coverage, combining these parameters into a hybrid solution is inevitable.
When MCS, tones or repetitions are adapted to improve the reliability of a UE that has a poor
coverage, there is a corresponding increase in the transmission delay of the UE. Therefore, in
the hybrid solution, the values of tones, repetitions and MCS are evaluated in an optimized
manner such that the delay per user is minimal, while the reliability is not compromised. To
achieve this, we formulate an optimization problem, with transmission delay per user as the
objective function, and the reliability as the constraint. In addition to transmission delay, energy
consumption would also be an interesting objective for minimization. In this paper, however, we
only focus on the delay.
The delay of a UE is composed of synchronization delay, Random Access Channel (RACH)
delay and data transmission delay. In this paper, we only consider the data transmission delay,
as it is the delay that can stretch in time based on the amount of data. The uplink data
transmission delay per UE consists of Downlink Control Information (DCI), transmission of
data, and transmission and reception of the acknowledgment. The data transmission delay per
UE for the uplink (UL) transmissions can be written as [12],
Delay =T L × ⌈ Datalength
T BS (MCS, RU ),(1)
where T L is the transmission latency, Datalength is the data size per user and T BS is the
transport block size. T L depends on the duration of a single transmission of DCI (tP DC CH ),
repetitions of control transmission (RLDC), downlink to uplink switching delay (tDU S ), du-
ration of a single subframe (tP U SC H ), the time factor (t), number of repetitions of the data
transmissions (RLUS) and time taken for acknowledgement (tACK ) as shown in Fig. 3. The
Narrowband Physical Uplink Shared Channel (NPUSCH) is used for uplink data transmission and
the Narrowband Physical Downlink Control Channel (NPDCCH) is used for downlink control
transmission. Hence, T L can be written as,
+tUDS +RLU C ×tACK .(2)
The time factor tdepends on the number of tones assigned to the UE and can take values as 1, 2,
4, 8, and 32 for 12, 6, 3, 1 tones of 15 kHz spacing and 1 tone of 3.75 kHz spacing, respectively.
The acknowledgement and retransmissions are disabled to better analyze the performance of our
solution i.e., tU DS and tAC K are set to zero. For simplicity, we assume that there are no repetitions
in the DCI (RLDC = 0) and that the number of resource units is one (RU = 1).
Let us denote tP U SC H by K0,Datalength by K2and RLUS by r. Hence, we can rewrite
(1) as follows,
Delay = (K1+K0×r×t)K2
T BS (m),(3)
where ris the number of repetitions, tis the time factor, K2is the datalength, K0and K1
are constants and T B S is the transport block size that depends on MCS denoted by m. The
Fig. 3: Uplink transmission latency in NB-IoT
table showing the relationship between MCS and TBS is specified in [1]. Considering the delay
expression given in (3), the optimization problem can be formulated as,
r,t,m Delay(r, t, m)
s. t. SNR SNRTh (m)
rR, t T, m M,
where SNRTh(m)is the threshold SNR value that depends on MCS, denoted by m. MCS is an
integer value that belongs to the set M={0,1,2..., 12},r, representing repetitions, is an integer
value that belongs to the set R={1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128}and t, representing the time factor, is
an integer value that belongs to the set T={1,2,4,8,32}. In order to achieve good reliability,
the received SNR should be above SNRTh(m). The received SNR depends on propagation loss,
repetition and tone. The number of tones influence the transmission bandwidth which is given
by BW = 180 kHz/f, where fis the frequency factor. The frequency factor, f, can take values
as 1, 2, 4, 12, and 48 for 12, 6, 3, 1 tones of 15 kHz spacing and 1 tone of 3.75 kHz spacing,
respectively. The transmitted power spectral density (P S DT X ) depends on the frequency factor
(f), and is given by PT X /BW , where PT X is the transmitted power. Hence, the received SNR
is calculated as,
SNR =K3×f×r, (5)
where K3=PT X /(180kHz ×N0×P L),N0is the noise power spectral density and P L is the
The SNR obtained in (5) should be greater than a given threshold (SNRTh(m)) to achieve
a good reliability and low BLER. The value of SNRTh(m)depends on MCS and it can be
obtained from the NB-IoT BLER curves generated for each MCS. These BLER curves are
generated by performing link level simulations. Fig. 4 shows the generated BLER curves on
the uplink for different MCS values under Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN) channel.
Hence, SNRTh(m), for all m, can be obtained from Fig. 4 by setting the value of BLER to be
-15 -10 -5 0 5 10 15
SNR (dB)
BLER = 0.1
Fig. 4: BLER curves under different MCS values for AWGN channel.
The obtained SNRTh(m)needs to be met in order to guarantee that the packet is received at the
base station without any corruption. Using the expressions given in (3) and (5), the optimization
problem can be re-written as follows:
K2(K1+K0r t )
T BS (m)
s. t. K3×f×rSNRTh (m)
rR, t T, m M.
Note that the ceiling in (1) is dropped since it will not alter the outcome of the optimization. The
objective function given in (6) is non-convex and it is hard to solve it analytically without any
approximations. The optimization problem is solved using three methods, namely, the exhaustive
search, Lagrange and fsolve methods. In order to simplify the optimization problem (6) for
solving through the Lagrange and fsolve methods, some approximations are made. Furthermore,
the integer constraints on r,tand mare relaxed. In order to obtain these approximations, we
use curve fitting function in MATLAB.
The first approximation is done for T BS (m)which is the denominator of the objective
function. The obtained approximation is given by,
T BS (m) = a m2+b m +c, (7)
where a = 0.65, b=7.5, c=15.5 and the mean square error between the actual T B S(m)given in
[1] and the obtained approximation is equal to 20.
The second approximation is for SNRTh(m)in (6). The approximation of SNRTh(m)is derived
from BLER curves in Fig.4 and is given by,
SNRTh(m) = q1m3+q2m2+q3m+q4,(8)
where q1= 0.001055,q2= 0.007623,q3= 0.01359, and q4= 0.3615. The mean square error
between the actual and the approximated SNRTh (m)is 0.0047.
The final approximation concerns the time and frequency factors. The objective function is
based on twhereas the SNR is based on f. Parameters fand tare both based on the number
of tones and are interrelated. For example, for a 15 kHz single-tone, tis equal to 8 and fis
equal to 12. Hence, we create an expression that relates fto tand it is given by,
where p1=0.004994,p2= 0.2031,p3= 0.08811, and p4= 0.834. The mean square error
between the actual and the approximated function is 0.015.
Based on the above approximations, the optimization problem (6) can be re-written as,
K2(K1+K0r t )
a m2+b m +c
s. t. K3×p1t3+p2t2+p3t+p4×r
Based on the formulations of the optimization problem in equations (6) and (10), we solve the
optimization problem using different methods.
1) Lagrange: The method of Lagrange multipliers is used to solve the minimization problem
described in (6) and (10). In order to simplify the optimization problem and to have a closed-
form solution, we fix the value of MCS, m. Thus, we search for the optimum values of rand
tfor a given value of m. Hence, in (10), since mis a constant, there is no need of using the
approximation of T B S(m)given in (7). Furthermore, we relax the integer constraint on rand
t. Based on (10) and these assumptions, the objective function and the constraints for a given
mare written as,
K2(K1+K0r t )
T BS (m)
s. t. K3rp1t3+p2t2+p3t+p4SNRTh(m)0
The Lagrangian (L) is defined as:
L=K2(K1+K0r t)
T BS (m)λ K3rp1t3+p2t2+p3t+p4)
where r,tand Lagrangian multiplier λare the variables or unknowns. The partial derivatives
of the Lagrangian L are calculated for r,tand λas shown below:
∂r = 0,L
∂λ = 0,L
∂t = 0 (12)
T BS (m)K3λp1t3+p2t2+p3t+p4= 0,(13)
T BS (m)K3λ r 3p1t2+ 2 p2t+p3= 0,(14)
SNRTh(m)K3rp1t3+p2t2+p3t+p4= 0 (15)
Solving (13) and (14) for tfor a given m, we get
3p1t2+ 2p2t+p3
= 0.(16)
From (16), we can see that tdepends only on the SNR. In order to get t, we solve 2p1t3+
p2t2p4= 0 such that 3p1t2+ 2p2t+p36= 0. Solving these equations for the given parameters
pi, we get the following
t=1.936,2.142,20.128 (17)
t6=0.215,27.327 (18)
Out of these tvalues, the negative value is discarded and the only possible values are 20.128
and 2.142. We can obtain rby substituting the values of tin (15). Then, we search for the
integer combination of rand tthat gives minimal delay and a SNR value higher than SNRTh.
The value of mis chosen by performing an exhaustive search and obtaining the values of tand
rfor each value of m. The optimum solution is obtained by choosing the combination r,tand
mthat yield the lowest delay, while achieving good reliability, i.e., SNRSNRTh.
2) fsolve: The second method used to solve the optimization problem is fsolve, a MATLAB
function used to solve a system of multivariate non-linear equations. This method is based on
the approximated objective function (10).
3) Exhaustive search: The most straight-forward method to solve the optimization problem
is through an exhaustive search. For this method, we consider the optimization problem without
any approximations given by (6). This method is implemented by searching for all possible
combinations of m,rand t. Then, we select the combination that yield the smallest delay and
satisfies the SNR constraint.
The exhaustive, Lagrange and fsolve algorithms are first implemented in MATLAB. The results
from the MATLAB implementation do not include network delays and are based on theoretical
models. The exhaustive search method is chosen as the base for evaluation since it is the most
accurate approach without any approximations. Table II shows the obtained mean square error
of fsolve and Lagrange methods compared with the exhaustive method. The Lagrange solution
has better accuracy than fsolve because less approximations are used. We can observe in Table II
that the Lagrange method is the fastest method with a speedup factor of about eight times over
the exhaustive method. This is achieved because the Lagrange method only iterates over the
value of m. fsolve is faster than exhaustive search but slower than the Lagrange method. This is
because fsolve is an iterative approach and it tries to find the three unknowns, simultaneously.
In order to allocate tones, repetitions and MCS, the base station needs to perform the link
TABLE II: Accuracy and speed of fsolve and Lagrange
Method Mean square error Speed-up factor
fsolve 0.0018 1.5
Lagrange 0.0001028 8
Fig. 5: Delay per user for different approaches
adaptation at runtime for all the UE’s whenever there is a change in SNR. Hence, the speed of
the optimization algorithm is an important factor to be considered, while choosing the algorithm.
In order to evaluate our theoretical models for delay given in (1), the Lagrange and the exhaustive
approach are implemented in the NS-3 network simulator. The same random deployment scenario
described above for open areas in II-C is used to perform the simulations in NS-3.
Fig.5 depicts the delay obtained by adapting MCS, adapting tone, adapting repetitions and
adapting all the three parameters, i.e. hybrid optimization in NS-3. We should note that the
optimum values of the parameters in the hybrid solution are obtained using Lagrange method. The
delay obtained from NS-3 simulations of the Lagrange approach is is denoted by ’Lagrange (NS-
3)’ in Fig.5. The delay obtained from MATLAB using the theoretical expression in (1) optimized
using the Lagrange method is denoted in Fig.5 by ’Lagrange (model)’. We can observe that the
delay obtained using ’Lagrange (model)’ and ’Lagrange (NS-3)’ are similar. This confirms that
the expression of the delay in (1) is correct. In the zoomed part of Fig.5, we can observe that
between zones 5 and 15, the hybrid solution, ’Lagrange (NS-3)’, gives the lowest delay among
the other methods and yields similar delay value at closer zones. Furthermore, the MCS, tone,
and repetition-only approaches show good performance with respect to the reliability up to a
maximum of 4 km, 8 km, and 10 km, respectively. However, through experiments, the hybrid
Lagrange approach provides good reliability up to a distance of 40 km in open areas scenario.
Thus, hybrid solution offers better network efficiency, lower delay or latency per user which
MCS Tone Rep Hybrid
Max no. of UE
Theoretical (Eqn.19)
NS-3 Simulation
Fig. 6: Scalability for reporting period of 10s.
means lower power consumption.
In addition to latency and power consumption, we also evaluate the network performance in
terms of scalability, which is the maximum number of users that can be supported in a network.
The maximum number of users that can be supported in a network is obtained from [12] and is
given by,
max NUE =Reporting P eriod
DelayU E
⌋ × ⌊ NS C
SC U ,(19)
where NSC is the total number of subcarriers available for allocation, DelayU E is the average
delay per user obtained in (1), and SCU is the number of subcarriers allocated to one user.
The reporting period (Reporting P eriod) is assumed to be the same for all users. Fig. 6 depicts
the results obtained using NS-3 simulator and using the theoretical expression given in (19) for
the different aforementioned methods. Fig. 6 shows the maximum number of users that can be
supported when NSC is 24, i.e., number of RBs is two, and the reporting period is 10 s. We can
observe that the Lagrange or hybrid method has the highest maximum number of users, mainly
because it is optimized to achieve lower delay per user (DelayU E ). Furthermore, in tone and
hybrid approaches, resource allocation is performed in terms of subcarriers (SC) and multiple
users can share the same RB whereas, in repetition and MCS approaches, the resource allocation
is performed in terms of resource blocks (RB) and every user is allocated a minimum of one
RB (12 SC). This means that the subcarrier per user (SCU) is fixed to 12 in these approaches,
resulting in a lower maximum number of users than the tone and hybrid approaches. In the tone
and hybrid approaches, there is a difference between the NS-3 and the theoretical results because
it is difficult to simulate beyond 600 users in NS-3 due to memory and processing constraints.
In this paper, we describe an implementation of uplink coverage enhancement methods of NB-
IoT in NS-3 simulator. We evaluate the performance of tones, repetitions and MCS with respect
to reliability and latency. We show that, an improvement in reliability at longer ranges comes at
the cost of a corresponding increase in latency. In order to achieve improved coverage and lower
latency, we propose a hybrid optimization strategy with latency as the objective function and
SNR as the constraint. We propose and implement three optimization methods the exhaustive
search, fsolve and Lagrange methods and we evaluate them based on accuracy and speed. We
show that the Lagrange method outperforms the other two methods in terms of execution speed
and yields the same latency as the exhaustive method. We implement the Lagrange method in
the NS-3 simulator and verify our optimization formulation. Through numerical results, we show
that the Lagrange method for hybrid link adaptation is eight times faster than the exhaustive
search approach and yields similar latency. Furthermore, it achieves a range of 40 km for open
areas and has better scalability than optimized tone, optimized repetition and optimized MCS
This work was partially funded by the Flemish FWO SBO S004017N IDEALIoT (Intelligent
DEnse And Long range IoT networks) project and the SCOTT project (SCOTT (www.scott- has received funding from the Electronic Component Systems for European Lead-
ership Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 737422. This Joint Undertaking receives
support from the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and
Austria, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium,
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Conference Paper
Full-text available
Low power wide area network (LPWAN) is a wireless telecommunication network that is designed for interconnecting devices with low bitrate focusing on long range and power efficiency. In this paper, we study two recent technologies built from existing Long-Term Evolution (LTE) functionalities: Enhanced machine type communications (eMTC) and Narrow band internet of things (NB-IoT). These technologies are designed to coexist with existing LTE infrastructure, spectrum, and devices. We first briefly introduce both systems and then compare their performance in terms of energy consumption, latency and scalability. We introduce a model for calculating the energy consumption and study the effect of clock drift and propose a method to overcome it. We also propose a model for analytically evaluating the latency and the maximum number of devices in a network. Furthermore, we implement the main functionality of both technologies and simulate the end-to-end latency and maximum number of devices in a discrete-event network simulator NS-3. Numerical results show that 8 years battery life time can be achieved by both technologies in a poor coverage scenario and that depending on the coverage conditions and data length, one technology consumes less energy than the other. The results also show that eMTC can serve more devices in a network than NB-IoT, while providing a latency that is 10 times lower.
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a new narrowband radio technology introduced in the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 13 towards to the 5th generation (5G) evolution for providing low-power widearea Internet of Things (IoT). In NB-IoT systems, repeating transmission data or control signals has been considered as a promising approach for enhancing coverage. Taking into account the new feature of repetition, link adaptation for NBIoT systems need to be performed in two dimensions, i.e., the modulation and coding scheme (MCS), and the repetition number. Therefore, existing link adaptation schemes without consideration of repetition number are no longer applicable. In this paper, a novel uplink link adaptation scheme with repetition number determination is proposed, which is composed of the inner loop link adaptation and the outer loop link adaptation, to guarantee transmission reliability and improve throughput of NB-IoT systems. In particular, the inner loop link adaptation is designed to cope with Block Error Ratio (BLER) variation by periodically adjusting the repetition number. The outer loop link adaptation coordinates the MCS level selection and the repetition number determination. Besides, key technologies of uplink scheduling like power control and transmission gap are analyzed and a simple single-tone scheduling scheme is proposed. Link-level simulations are performed to validate the performance of the proposed uplink link adaptation scheme. The results show that our proposed uplink link adaptation scheme for NB-IoT systems outperforms the repetition-dominated method and straightforward method, particularly for good channel conditions and larger packet sizes. Specifically, it can save more than 14% of the active time and resource consumption compared with the repetition-dominated method and save more than 46% of the active time and resource consumption compared with the straightforward method.
Conference Paper
In 3GPP Rel-13, a narrowband system, named Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), has been introduced to provide low-cost, low-power, wide-area cellular connectivity for the Internet of Things. This system, based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, supports most LTE functionalities albeit with essential simplifications to reduce device complexity. Further optimizations to increase coverage, reduce overhead and reduce power consumption while increasing capacity have been introduced as well. The design objectives of NB-IoT include low-complexity devices, high coverage, long device battery life, and massive capacity. Latency is relaxed although a delay budget of 10 seconds is the target for exception reports. This paper provides an overview of NB-IoT design, including salient features from the physical and higher layers. Illustrative results with respect to performance objectives are also provided. Finally, NB-IoT enhancements in LTE Rel-14 are briefly outlined.